How to Use Vitamin C Serum on Face: 7 Simple Steps

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Vitamin C serum is one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients you can add to your skin-care routine. It will help reverse sun damage on your face, boost collagen production, and even improve your complexion.

When applied to the skin, this product works as an exfoliant by removing dead skin cells and brightening your complexion by controlling melanin production. It also helps stimulate collagen production, which improves skin elasticity.

This guide will teach you how to apply vitamin C serum correctly, what it is, and how to choose one. Let’s get started.

How to Use Vitamin C Serum on your Face

1. Start With a Patch Test

Treat your skin to a patch test about 48 hours before using vitamin C serum on your face for the first time. You’ll be able to see if you have a reaction before using it all over your face.

A patch test is simple: Just dab a little bit of the product on the inside of your elbow or wrist and leave it there for 48 hours. If you don’t notice any irritation, redness, or other strange reactions at that time, you can proceed with the next steps.

2. Cleanse Your Skin

This is the first step of any routine, and what really makes a difference in how your skin looks and feels. Cleansing removes dirt and oil from your face and helps remove makeup so you don’t clog your pores with it overnight.

Choose a cleanser that’s appropriate to your skin type – dry, oily, combination, or sensitive (to name just a few). Use only a small amount as cleansers lather up pretty heavily.

3. Exfoliate (Optional)

Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells; you can find exfoliants in the form of scrubs, lotions, and even chemical peels. Any of these work well for exfoliating your face, but a scrub is the most popular choice.

Be sure to use something that is gentle on your face, because scrubbing too hard can damage your skin. If you have sensitive skin or existing acne, be careful when you scrub your face because harsh scrubs can make your acne worse.

4. Apply a Toner

The primary function of a toner is to close pores and remove any remaining traces of cleanser from your face before applying the rest of your skincare products.

When applying a toner, pat it on your skin with a cotton ball to avoid pulling or stretching it with your fingers, which can cause wrinkles over time.

It should feel slightly tingly, but if it feels excessively burning or stinging, avoid using the product in the future.

5. Apply Vitamin C Serum

It’s time for the main step which is using your vitamin C serum. Squeeze 2-3 drops of vitamin C serum on your fingertips and then apply it to your face and neck.

When applying vitamin C serum on your face, use a gentle patting motion rather than sweeping or rubbing strokes. This will help keep it from irritating the skin.

Make sure you wait at least 10 minutes before applying any other skincare product on your face. This will help increase absorption while reducing the chances of irritation or redness occurring.

6. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

Choose a moisturizer that is specifically designed for your skin type so that it will not make your skin condition worse or cause irritation. This will also ensure you’re getting the right amount of moisture needed for your skin type.

However, you want to be sure that you are not putting too much moisturizer on your face as it could cause acne breakouts.

7. Apply Sunscreen

Protect your face from sun damage by using sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, 15-20 minutes before going outside. While an SPF of 15 is better than nothing, it won’t protect you as well as an SPF of 30 or higher.

You should also apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of your skin, and reapply it every two hours while in the sun, or after swimming or sweating.

But What Is Vitamin C Serum, Really?

Vitamin C serum is a skincare product formulated with vitamin C, which is a powerful ingredient that repairs skin damage and stimulates collagen production.

“Vitamin C is the ultimate super ingredient,” says dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin. “It helps prevent aging, brightens skin tone, and can reverse sun damage.

Vitamin C also helps keep pores clear of debris that leads to blackheads and acne. There are many forms of vitamin C — L-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate — but they all have similar benefits.

The only downside is that vitamin C serums tend to be expensive because they’re made from pure vitamin C and are usually in a glass bottle.

Things to Keep In Mind When Choosing a Vitamin C Serum

  • Always go for a product that contains AA (Ascorbic Acid) or MAP (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate). These forms of vitamin C have been shown by scientific studies to be more effective at brightening skin.
  • When shopping for a vitamin C serum, look out for ingredients like glycolic acid and lactic acid. These ingredients exfoliate dead skin cells to promote cell turnover, revealing a brighter and more even skin tone.
  • It is also important to choose a product that contains ferulic acid. This ingredient helps protect your skin from sun damage.
  • Keep in mind to look for a vitamin C serum that does not contain any fragrances, petrolatum, or oil. These ingredients can clog pores and cause breakouts.
  • While some serums contain just 5% of active ingredients, others have up to 25%. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a lower dose, then gradually increase it until you see a difference.
  • If you have sensitive skin, it is important to check the label before you buy. Some vitamin C serums contain stearic acid or other ingredients that can cause irritation in some people.

What Can You Use With Vitamin C Serum?

Hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid will help to improve the moisture level within your skin while vitamin C helps with brightening your complexion and fighting off sun damage.

“Most people can use both products together without experiencing any negative side effects. If you are using both products together, it’s best to use the hyaluronic acid first and then apply vitamin C serum after,” Dr. Kunin says.

In his words, hyaluronic acid can make vitamin C serum more effective by delivering it deeper into your skin. Make sure that you follow the directions on each product as every skincare product is different and some may require special needs than others.

How to Use Vitamin C Serum With Hyaluronic Acid

  • Wash your face with a mild cleanser and pat it dry before applying a toner.
  • Squeeze 2-3 drops of vitamin C serum into your fingertips then pat it into your skin using gentle motions.
  • Allow the serum to soak into your skin for 10 minutes before applying your hyaluronic acid serum.
  • Apply moisturizer to lock in moisture and prevent irritation or sensitivity from occurring on your skin.
  • Use a sunscreen you really like, preferably with SPF 30 or higher.


When is the best time to apply vitamin C serum?

After cleansing and toning. This will remove any dirt or makeup residue from your skin and prepare it for vitamin C serum absorption.

To make sure your skin absorbs the serum, wait approximately 15 minutes after application before putting on moisturizer and sunscreen.

Can you use vitamin C serum at night?

Yes, you can. Applying vitamin C serum at night helps it to deeply penetrate your skin while you sleep, maximizing the results of your skincare regimen.

All you have to do is apply a few drops of serum to your cleansed face, patting it into your skin in gentle motions. This will help open up your pores and allow the potent ingredients in the serum to absorb quickly and deeply into your skin.

Does vitamin C serum brighten skin?

Yes, it does. Vitamin C is an effective ingredient for brightening dull skin because it evens out discoloration by reducing melanin production and exfoliating dead skin cells.

It also helps improve skin texture by healing damaged skin tissues and promoting collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin. 


A little bit goes a long way with vitamin C serum, ensure to use it after cleansing and toning but before applying your regular moisturizer and sunscreen.

As with any skincare product, do a patch test and if you are allergic to it or experience negative side effects, discontinue use immediately. Always consult with your dermatologist before applying any skin treatment product.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Serum101 to know more about the benefits of using vitamin C serum.